You Just Helped Save Another Military Hero’s Career

February 9, 2024
Military Hero | First Liberty Institute

by Jorge Gomez • 4 min read

Thanks to you, another military service member’s career has been saved.

We’re happy to announce a win for our client, Matthew McCarthy, who serves with the Maine Air National Guard. Your gift to First Liberty made all the difference in his case—and it means he’ll be able to continue serving our country.

In 2021—as an expression of his sincerely held religious beliefs and in his civilian capacity— Matthew displayed the Appeal to Heaven Flag above the American Flag on his residential property in rural Maine.

The Appeal to Heaven Flag has a special place in America’s military history. The flag became akin to a prayer to God, especially among colonial troops who needed spiritual strength as they fought for independence. (See the next section for a little more history).

But the Pentagon brass apparently didn’t like Matthew’s expression—and tried punishing him for it. Nearly two and a half years ago, he received a Letter of Reprimand that kept him from being promoted to the rank of Captain. The U.S. Department of Defense also said it would revoke his security clearance.

First Liberty fought back—and today, that Letter of Reprimand has been withdrawn.

We can’t thank you enough for every donation you make to First Liberty. For Americans like Matthew, your gift is truly life changing. Your generous support has real impact. It means his name, career, retirement, and reputation will remain intact. Because of you, this service member will get to keep doing what he does best.

Quick History Lesson: Colonial Troops ‘Look to Heaven’ for Courage, Strength

The Appeal to Heaven Flag—also known as the Pine Tree Flag— was designed by Colonel Joseph Reed, who served as George Washington’s personal secretary. The flag was originally commissioned for use on six military cruiser ships and adopted on October 21, 1775. It became the official Massachusetts navy flag in 1776.

General Washington chose the tree as a symbol of independence. He knew that colonial troops were about to fight against the world’s greatest military force at the time. His men needed a reminder of the Divine power that sustained them. In the face of great adversity, they could directly appeal to Heaven and rely on God for strength, courage and hope.

The flag, with its prayer to God, became synonymous with the American struggle for liberty.

Several of the earliest Revolutionary War battles and victories were fought under this moving banner. Some historians document the flag being carried by troops at Bunker Hill and flown from floating batteries at the Battle of Boston.

In America, we shouldn’t punish service members for flying a flag that reflects their religious convictions. Federal laws and military regulations protect the right of all our service members to live out their faith. First Liberty will continue fighting to make sure our nation’s heroes get to enjoy the same freedoms for which they serve and sacrifice.

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